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Jul 9, 2014

Midrise Development – The 109 Ossington, approved by OMB

By: Leor Margulies

Nimbism continues to rear its ugly head in Toronto, notwithstanding the desperate need for affordable housing in GTA and 416.

On June 12, 2014 Jason Chee-Ng allowed an appeal by Reserve Properties Inc. for the construction of a six storey 20 metre tall mixed use building at 109 Ossington, to contain approximately 86 residential units. This is an area that is growing both as a destination and a place to live. The former derelect garage will be replaced by this stunning new six storey building now that the OMB has committed its approval.

The local residents association, residents and the local councillor vehemently opposed the rezoning because it currently allows only five storeys vs. 6 storeys being proposed. Imagine, an 8-day hearing to allow for one additional storey which can provide affordable housing in the core of Toronto. What a tremendous waste of resources and energy. And of course, the additional carrying costs for the property as a result of the lengthy delays in approvals which can only increase the cost of housing.

A compromise was reached with the City to reduce their height from 21.5m to 20m, but still retaining the six storey height. This was good enough for the City, but not for the residents and the hearing had to continue.

Imagine what development would be like in the City without the OMB. If a
simple development like this requires an 8-day hearing, what would happen if the OMB was abolished as desired by many of the municipalities in Ontario? Projects like Minto Towers at Yonge + Eglinton, the 8-storey Tribute building on Avenue Road and the 6-storey building at 109 Ossington would not come to fruition.

Local residents, the City and Councillors claim that the OMB is builder-friendly and always sides with the builders. It is true that the majority of the decisions do allow for developments in some fashion or other as opposed to rejecting the application by the builder outright. The reason for this is that builders do not go to the OMB unless they have a very strong case and good planning will support their decision. The press and the public ignore this fact.

Interestingly, going through 6-storeys needs an 8-day hearing, but going
beyond 50 storeys on King Street which is the norm in the entertainment district, to 92 storeys is not a problem for the public or the City, if the architect is Frank Gehry and the developer is David Mervish. So 92-storeys on King Street makes sense, but six storeys on Ossington doesn't? Perhaps my readers can understand it. The logic escapes me.

In any event, thank you OMB for assisting the City in continuing to allow
reasonable intensification as per provincial policy guidelines and providing more affordable housing, for those who need it.

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